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China plans to sell armed drones to Pakistan

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Chinese UAV Pterodactyl was displayed at Airshow China in Zhuhai in November.

WASHINGTON (PTI): China has ramped up its research in drone technology and is in the process of building armed, jet-propelled unmanned planes, which it plans to sell to countries like Pakistan.

Though much of this work remains secret, the large number of drones at recent exhibitions underlines not only China's determination to catch up in that sector by building equivalents to the leading US combat and surveillance models, the Predator and the Global Hawk but also that its desire to sell this technology abroad, a media report has said.

"No country has ramped up its research in recent years faster than China. It displayed a drone model for the first time at the Zhuhai air show five years ago, but now every major manufacturer for the Chinese military has a research center devoted to drones," the Washington Post daily recently said quoting Chinese analysts.

Not only the Chinese are trying to make state of the art armed drones, they are also eyeing the international market.

"The United States doesn't export many attack drones, so we're taking advantage of that hole in the market," said Zhang Qiaoliang, a representative of the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, which manufactures many of the most advanced military aircraft for the People's Liberation Army.

"The main reason is the amazing demand in the market for drones after 9/11."

According to the daily, Pakistan has said it plans to obtain armed drones from China, which has already sold the nation one for surveillance.

As per Aviation Industry Corp of China, it has begun offering international customers a combat and surveillance drone comparable to the Predator called the Yilong or “pterodactyl in English.

Zhang, of the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, said the company anticipates sales in Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa.

However, he and others displaying drones at a recent Beijing anti-terrorism convention played down the threat of increasing Chinese drone technology, the daily said.

"I don't think China's drone technology has reached the world's first-class level," said Wu Zilei, from the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, echoing an almost constant refrain.

"The reconnaissance drones are okay, but the attack drones are still years behind the United States".

However, the daily quoted Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, who said such statements are routine and intended to deflect concern about the nation's expanding military ambitions.

"The Chinese are catching up quickly. This is something we know for sure," Fisher said. "We should not take comfort in some perceived lags in sensors or satellites capabilities. Those are just a matter of time."

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China  Pakistan  Drones  
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